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Friday, October 28, 2011

Customer Service – Is It An Attitude?

I recently took a road trip to the tip of Florida and stopped at several restaurants and stores along the way. It struck me how differently these retail organizations approached customer service.

At Cracker Barrel, there was always one of the staff in proximity to the front door who welcomed the visitors warmly; the hostess inquired about our trip and introduced the server; the server offered suggestions about the menu, was prompt and attentive to our needs, including delivering the check immediately when we were finished the meal; in parting the cashier addressed us by name wishing us a good trip.

At Publix Food Store there is a staffer just in front of the checkout stations who asks if we found everything during our visit, and walked us to the location of the item we could not find, thanked us for shopping with them, and guided us back to the fasted line for checkout; the clerk was equally as friendly and efficient while scanning the order.

At a roadside stripmall, when we entered a variety store, the cashier hollered “HI - HOW ARE YA!” from her fortress in the center of the store and then promptly ignored us for the remainder of the visit, including talking on her cell phone while ringing up the order - slowly.

In each instance, the staff was following an established customer service procedure of how to welcome and assist customers. In the first two examples, it yielded a positive reaction, in the last one a negative feeling.

The key ingredient in each is the attitude of the staff member – warm and welcoming, helpful and engaged, or loud and detached.

Good customer service is a sales tool, but is effectively delivered when sincere, with the intention of addressing the customer's immediate needs – like realizing wasted time is stressful for travelers. Good customer service in integrated into the business process, not hung on at the end for complaints – like offering a warm and sincere welcome. Good customer service is asking if the customer wants help - like the 'personal guide' into the labyrinth of grocery isles. From my experience, it is successful when the staff actively participates, embraces its goals, and has the right attitude.

Would I go back to Cracker Barrel and Publix? Absolutely! Did their customer service accomplish the goal – it won my future patronage.

Sales is a conversation which ends in a Yes. Customer service is sales. Good customer service is embodied in staff attitude. Attitude is non-verbal communication. This makes a complete circle – each element supporting the others!

What's your experience with customer service making a positive difference?

The Capital Technology Management Hub StartupChallenge is Tuesday, November 8, 6pm at GMU. At this event, audience rules! We need audience, startups, interested parties. Come investigate Sales Lab’s new business! See the future up close and personal.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Full Life-Cycle Learning

Learning is Doing. 

It’s not just cracking the books, it’s making something new. Making new makes learning stick.

Research and study are tools to get to the doing part.

Learning conductors do a better job when they conduct from concept to completion.

Shipping provides lessons that are not to be missed, that retroactively change understanding of all the stages, all the way back to “What are we doing?”

Imagine learning as a complete cycle.

Your ideas?

The Capital Technology Management Hub Startup Challenge is Tuesday, November 8, 6pm at GMU. At this event, audience rules! We need audience, startups, interested parties. Come investigate Sales Lab’s new business! See the future up close and personal.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chris Anderson’s Hierarchy of Reward

Verisign had a mind bending Building A Better Internet program at the Newseum in Washington DC. Three pages of good notes, huge respect for the people on stage (2011 Judges Video). There will be posts on this program for months.

The keynote was Chris Anderson.

I’ve seen Chris Anderson before. His presentations are the equivalent of understanding a Neal Stephenson book in 20 minutes, an intellectual athletic event. This presentation was another fireworks performance.

By day he is editor in chief of Wired Magazine. At other times he runs the open source drone software foundation, has a couple of companies and writes books that change the current business paradigm. He does good Dad, too.

While discussing a half dozen other ideas Chris laid out his hierarchy of reward for his open source tribe.

Chris has stepped up to open source management of a business of things on the internet of things.

His last stick of dynamite over the side of the boat is, “Atoms Are The New Bits.” Now, that’s a bumpersticker!

Your thoughts?

Our next presentation is BlogLab - Improve Your Blogs! Thursday December 8, 8:30 am - 1 pm. Learn more at

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Aargh Start

Ben called at 12:30 Monday. “Do you ever have trouble getting started on a Monday?”

I said I knew organizations that had trouble getting started for whole months.

One of my favorite solutions is the Meeting Poster

But what do you do if you’re not faking it in middle management and have to produce some results?

To get temporary relief, try Sales Lab’s Planned Workcycle, my favorite way of jumpstarting the creative process and minimizing rework. Note, this version shows an important upgrade to the Evaluation Step, that makes people enjoy using the process.

When I redefined Evaluation, I felt I plugged the major hole in that process. That’s one of my two best contributions to the field of sales. The other was when I canceled out Objections in the Four Step Sales Process.

Winston Churchill’s several biographies all showed how he took physical actions, building Follies, to shake off the black dog

I have received much positive feedback since I recommended Steven Pressfield's The War of Art. It's a small book with a comprehensive plan for fighting through the lulls.

Our next presentation is BlogLab - Improve Your Blogs! Thursday December 8, 8:30 am - 1 pm. Learn more at

Friday, October 14, 2011

What’s Up With Google Plus?

Dick will be featured on Tom D’Auria’s IMI TechTalk, Sunday, October 16,6 pm Eastern/3 pm Mountain Time, discussing how Google Plus is being used and how it is changing the Internet. 1100KFNX New-Talk Radio, simulcast on the web

Please join us!

Social Media...Incoming!

I read way more than I post. I am always looking to get rid of lower value blogs and for posts that are more in line with my interests.

I customarily set up a half dozen new blogs for a new project and over a week whittle out the less valuable ones. I use Google Reader as my blog aggregator and today I am subscribed to 103 blogs. (Just checked)

What do I do with all that wealth?

First of all, I don’t read every day. Mondays and Tuesdays my hair is usually on fire, so I don’t get to it. Wednesday afternoon I get maybe an hour, Thursday a little more, and Friday afternoons I can usually finish the week’s reading. If there is more than I can get to, I flush them without guilt. If it’s good, it’ll come again.

Using Reader, I can group my reads by subject, and then move quickly from an abbreviated view to the actual blog post if I choose. Robert Scoble is reported to read 600 blogs an hour.

Some authors, like Kevin Kelly, work to just leave a teaser. If youre going to do that, provide as much value as Kevin. Otherwise, I’ll drop you.

My model for great blog posts is Seth Godin’s blog. A short post, point made, move on. If I want more, I’ll search the Google box.

When I read, I scan the majority. If I need to recall the subject, my brain does that.

Other posts I follow related links, may spend 20 minutes immersed in a subject.

If there is something that will take longer than I want to invest, I go to the original post and drag the URL to my desktop for further followup. I eventually go back to about half of those.

Finally, since most of these these posts are arranged around ongoing projects, I often send pertinent information to my posse. Lovely word, posse. Comes from this Carol Covin post. Many people get those emails.

Bill Van Dyke sends southern rock videos, only the good ones. We have both gotten better at knowing what to send through practice.

What is your most constructive use of social media, incoming?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Carol Covin – Finding Ada

October 7 is Ada Lovelace Day, the international holiday honoring women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths. It can be anybody, I like people finding a better way to do important things.

This year I’d like to pick on Carol Covin...because I think she is going to cure cancer. She’s not running around in a white coat with test tubes. That’s the early fun stuff, the equivalent of the single moment of creating a child.

Nope, Carol’s doing the parenting thing. She found something that works and now she is raising, maturing her set of solutions, introducing them out into society.

She doesn’t want to own the process, doesn’t want to keep anybody out. She wants the solution adopted, and she is spending her focus making that happen. Getting them ready to succeed in the world.

Here’s part of an email she sent:
Someone sent me a copy of the first article in the book and they could have been writing about me and my cancer project. He talks about what we learn as we go through our worklives, to find work we can do, to find work we love. But, the highest and most rewarding activity is to find work that no one else can or will do. I tried to give the cancer project away for 7 years, knowing there were obviously people more qualified than I to do it, but no one would and I will.

Here’s the case study for her 2010 STEM Award, No One Else Was Going To Do It.

Ada Lovelace Day succeeds not because of a winner, but because of sheer numbers. Quick! Go post an appreciation of your favorite Grrl Geek, and log it at the Finding Ada directory.

Happy Ada Day!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dirty Dozen Decision Process

When faced with a decision, young organizations tend to pick the least worst of two options.

A better way is to enforce creating a list of a dozen alternatives. That can be done in a couple of hours. The process creates a better definition of the problem and also of the choices. The last choices are difficult to define was we get excited seeing better solutions, but completing this artificial exercise eliminates a lot of rework down the line.

The best solution is often a combination of two or three options, which only becomes apparent as the problem resolves into better focus.

I can’t think of a time when part of the solution didn’t come from the last half of the alternatives.

The Dirty Dozen is a formal way to complete your architecture, and creates higher confidence and energy when taking action.

Your thoughts?

SalesLabs next Rainmaker, (Number 8!) is Google + Your Personal Website, Fast, Free, and Findable! the first 300 seconds of the Capital Technology Management Hub, at 6 pm, Tuesday, October 11th. The headliner is Overcoming Mobile Challenges in the Federal Government - Sponsored by TeqCorner, featuring Ferhan Hamid, CEO and Vikrant Binjrajka, CTO of INADEV.